Lest I've given you the impression that my road trip has been all rainbows and unicorns, running smoothly as per all my well-laid plans, let me tell you about one epic fail.
In keeping with my goal of trying out funky lodgings on this trip, I was intrigued by a placed called the UFO Watchtower. It's a complex in a remote corner of southern Colorado where hard-core UFO chasers gather to spot and document UFO sightings and discuss alien abductions. It also includes a campground, so I thought it would be a fun place to pitch my tent for a night. (For the record, I am not a UFO chaser, but I do think it's arrogant to think that we are the only life form out there. So yes, I do think there is other life out there somewhere. And what a great blog story an alien abduction would be...!)
The first thing that went awry is that I spent way more time at Arches National Park than I intended to. By the time I got to the UFO place that night, it was almost 10 PM. A couple hours before arrival I called a number given on their website to make sure I could camp there and was told I could, but that the gate would be chained and I would need to unlock it to let myself in.
After wrestling with the chain for a while, I managed to get it undone and the gate opened. The only thing I could make out in the pitch darkness was giant "Aliens Have Landed" signs and other alien paraphernalia. I slowly drove around for 10-15 minutes trying to figure out where the campground was, where to pay for it, or where to pitch my tent. The fact that the temperature was dipping below freezing and it had started sleeting wasn't helping matters any. I was wishing some alien WOULD show up and invite me into their (very warm) UFO.
At the very end of the complex, there was one lone van with a tent next to it.
That spooked me more than the potential of an alien abduction. There was no way I was going to get any sleep, wondering who the only other crazy person was (besides me), sleeping in the freezing cold, waiting (I'm assuming) for aliens to show up.
I hightailed it out of there (after wrestling with the chained fence once more), and went in search of the closest hotel, about a half hour away. It didn't meet the criteria for a funky lodging, but it did offer some color: a police car and ambulance were there, escorting out some fellow who claimed he went into a coma when his energy drink exploded. (I'm just reporting here, not judging...)
When I woke up the next morning, it was 21 degrees out, and my car was completely iced over. Probably just as well I didn't try to spend the night in a tent.
What I'm mostly bummed about is that I didn't stop to get some pictures of the alien signs. I'll be back to check out the place during daylight hours.
UFO Watchtower, Center, Colorado